As part of planning ahead, it is important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for. This is in case your health changes and you become unable to tell other people what you want to happen.
It is best to write down your wishes and preferences. This is so your family and health or social care professionals know how you would like to be cared for.
These statements about your preferences are not legally binding. But they will be helpful for health and social care professionals when they make decisions about your care.
You may sometimes hear the terms Anticipatory Care Planning or Advance Care Planning used to describe your written wishes and preferences for your care.
There are a number of different documents that can be used to record your wishes. You can ask your health care professional which documents are used in your area.
Before you write down your wishes and preferences, it can help to talk through your plans with your family or a close friend. This can be particularly helpful if you want them to:
- be involved in your care
- make decisions on your behalf.
You should also talk through your plans with one or two of the professionals looking after you, such as your GP or nurse.
It is also important to discuss whether your wishes are realistic. If they are not realistic, try to think of some alternatives. For example, you may prefer to die at home, but have no family members or close friends able to support you there. So it may be more realistic for you to be cared for in a care home, hospital or hospice.
It may not always be possible for your wishes and preferences to be met at the time when you become less well. For example, you may want to be cared for at home by a family member, but if they become ill or too tired, they may be unable to look after you. In this case, health or social care professionals may be able to arrange care for you so you can stay at home. If this is not possible, they will plan for you to receive the best possible care somewhere else. This might be in a care home, hospital or hospice.